John Richardson, Marketing Manager at Innovate, explains why the imminent ‘End of Support’ for several widely used Microsoft products makes this a good time to consider migrating to the Cloud
On 14th January 2020 Microsoft will switch off support for Windows 7 and Server 2008. Later in the year, on 13th October, it will also be ending support for Exchange 2010. All these applications are still widely used, so this latest ‘End of Support’ programme could have a profound impact on many UK businesses.
While the software will continue to work as normal after these dates, the fact that Microsoft will no longer be providing technical support or issuing software updates and patches for new security flaws inevitably leaves them open to exploitation.
This carries a high risk for businesses. In May 2017, 300,000 organisations that had not updated Windows XP after its End of Support suffered a serious cyber-attack from the now infamous WannaCry ransomware. The NHS was particularly badly affected, with remedial work costing in excess of £92m. There’s a good chance that hackers are now working on how to exploit any vulnerabilities within Windows 7.
Microsoft will continue to support newer products, and the danger is that when vulnerabilities are discovered in them, it could highlight similar vulnerabilities in Windows 7, for which no security patches will be issued, effectively giving hackers a map of exploitable weaknesses.
In addition to security concerns, there is the risk of obsolescence. All new versions of Microsoft products (Office, Dynamics etc.), as well as those from most other software providers, will not be developed to work on older Windows platforms. Most other software developers will also no longer support legacy software designed to operate on Windows 7.
What you need to do
If you are still running Windows 7 or one of the other applications mentioned above, it is advisable to put a migration plan in place. Analyse your current situation and infrastructure – What does it do now and what would you like it to do in the future? What equipment do you currently have and how old is it? Is it new and reliable or is it coming to the end of its working life and thus becoming costly to maintain?
Having so many Microsoft products reach End of Support at the same time is a great opportunity to review your IT infrastructure (and your file and folder structure) and to make some important decisions about what IT platform would best support your company’s future strategy and growth.
One option is to upgrade to a newer, advanced version of what you already have i.e. from Windows 7 to Windows 10. This is the obvious solution, but it is not as clear-cut as you may think: first, you will need to make sure that your PCs, servers and other IT infrastructure have the capability to run Windows 10; and second, Windows 10, too, has an End of Service date (currently set for 2026), which means you will be facing the same problems and costs in a few years’ time.
The other option is to migrate to the cloud. This offers significant benefits:
* All your business-critical applications can be served from the Cloud – Windows 10 desktops and your other software will look and work the same as before;
* Greater security & performance – your company will benefit from industry-leading malware protection, constant system performance monitoring, multi-zone back-up locations, rapid disaster recovery etc.;
* Instant scalability – extra processing power and storage are available at the click of a mouse to help with seasonal surges or a new business win;
* Update/support management – a Cloud Provider will undertake all the update leg-work so you always have the latest version of business-critical applications;
* Improved remote access – Cloud infrastructure allows you to access your applications and files from anywhere there is an internet connection via downloadable receiver software and the correct security access. This also gives you greater (and instant) control over user access;
* Substantial cost reduction – there’s no need to run and maintain costly on-site servers or other network devices. Desktop PCs, laptops and tablets can be easily re-tasked or new, low maintenance hot desk terminals can be installed.
To help businesses of all sizes understand their options, Continuous, a new business cloud platform from UK cloud provider and consultants Innovate Ltd, has produced a number of blog posts and an infographic on the subject of Microsoft’s End of Support programme. It is also offering a free, no-obligation review of a company’s existing and future infrastructure, with advice on how to improve efficiency and save costs by migrating to the Continuous Cloud. Find out more at